Ellyse Perry says the growing professionalisation of women’s sport in Australia is behind a staggering run of form that has seen her climb to a career-best second spot in the world batting rankings.
Perry has been a permanent fixture in Australian women’s sport for more than a decade since becoming the youngest cricketer to represent Australia at the age of 16.
In the 10 years since, she has represented Australia in both cricket – as an all-rounder with the national women’s team, the Southern Stars – and soccer as a defender.
Amazingly, Perry has made 16 ODI fifties in her past 22 innings, which online sport statistician “Swamp” says is the best-ever record over a 22-ODI period for any cricketer, male or female.
New Zealand’s Kane Williamson has the next best record at 14, while a group of 10 players have 13, including AB de Villiers and Sir Viv Richards.
Perry also improved on her highest ODI score in successive innings with unbeaten efforts of 93 and 95 in the first two matches of the Stars’ one-day series against South Africa.
The Stars won the opening three games of the five-game series, before a tie on Sunday ended a nine-match ODI winning streak. The final game of the series is on Tuesday in Coffs Harbour.
Perry told The New Daily that being able to spend more time working on her cricket underpinned her rich run of form.
She said the correlation between playing standards and levels of professionalism is a phenomenon that “is quite indicative of women’s sport in Australia at the moment”.
“We are able to be playing a lot more so there is more opportunity to be involved in games, and we have more and more training camps as a team,” Perry said.
“Not to mention having more and more domestic cricket so I think rather than playing less soccer, there has been more opportunity to play cricket and I think that always helps in terms of development.”
For most of her career Perry has juggled the duties playing both soccer and cricket for Australia, before recently choosing to focus solely on cricket.
He efforts with the bat have seen her rise three places to share second in the rankings alongside India’s Mithali Raj and behind Australian captain Meg Lanning.
She is also fourth in the bowling standings and the second-ranked all-rounder.
The professional evolution
The profile of Australian women’s cricket has been gradually improving since 2003, when the Australian Cricket Board and the Women’s Cricket Association merged under the umbrella of Cricket Australia.
Perry said along with cricket, “a lot of other sports in Australia at the moment are having more and more matches and competitions for women to play in, and that helps us improve”.
Female cricketers are the best paid sportswomen in Australia and the NSW Breakers – Perry’s state team – last month became the first female sporting team in the country to become fully professional.
In April, Cricket Australia announced its elite player salary pool would rise from $2.36 million to $4.23 million, with some Southern Stars earning over $100,000 per year.
The Southern Stars are due to play their fifth and final ODI against South Africa on Tuesday before three Twenty20 (T20) matches against New Zealand.
The team will face India in the new year in three ODIs and three T20s.
The success of the Australian women’s team is in stark contrast to their male counterparts.
After a lopsided 2-1 Test series loss to South Africa at home following a 3-0 loss in Sri Lanka, the Australian men’s team has slumped to fourth in the world in Test rankings.
The Southern Stars, meanwhile, remain firmly entrenched at the top of the women’s world rankings (Test, ODI and T20 are included in the one ranking), just ahead of England.
Away from sport, Perry told The New Daily she and husband Matt Toomua – who plays rugby for Australia – share a love of coffee.
“My husband and I own a couple of cafes with some other people in Canberra and we really love our coffee, so I like going to different cafes to try out wherever I am,” she said.
Perry and Toomua care so much about their coffee and cafes that the pair run an Instagram “food blog” that documents meals and drinks from their travels.
She said her other preferred hobbies are walking her new puppy and hanging out with friends and family help her cope with a hectic schedule.
“I don’t think my head is particularly clear,” Perry joked.